You Can Explore The Fascinating Past Of London Transport Museum Online

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 30 months ago
You Can Explore The Fascinating Past Of London Transport Museum Online
The newly-refurbished Flower Market, shown in an artist's impressions from 1978, was over three times the size of the old Syon Park site. It was intended to transform the collection into a 'proper' museum, one that actively cared for its collection, promoted public transport as a theme and actively encouraged schools to visit.

London Transport Museum turns 40 this weekend — and although you can't celebrate by visiting right now, you can learn about the museum's history, courtesy of a fascinating online archive.

The Covent Garden museum has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture, to tell a visual history of the London institution, and how it came to occupy part of the former Covent Garden flower market in 1980.

Thomas Tilling 'Knifeboard' type horse bus from 1851

The museum collection dates back much further — almost a whole century in fact. In the 1920s, the London General Omnibus Company decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus for future generations, and so the seeds were sown.

A poster from the time when the collection was at Syon House. The London Transport Collection. William Fenton, London Transport and W S Cowell Ltd, 1974

The museum has been housed in several locations since then, including in an erstwhile bus garage in Clapham during the 1960s, and a stint at Syon Park in west London from 1973, as the London Transport Collection.

The flower market in use in the 1970s

Over in Covent Garden, meanwhile, the flower businesses were moving out to modern warehouses at Nine Elms in 1974. This left some beautiful premises, with their train station-esque cast iron fans windows, empty — and it wasn't long before what was to become London Transport Museum made plans to relocate once again.

The Museum was officially opened on 28 March 1980 by Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne.

On 28 March 1980 the new Covent Garden museum was officially opened by Princess Anne (who we know loves a cheeky tube ride), and has grown to become one of London's great cultural institutions.

The museum today

Discover more about London Transport Museum's history — with many more wonderful images from the archives — on Google Arts & Culture.

Images © London Transport Museum

Last Updated 25 March 2020

Continued below.